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Patriots Unfiltered Thu Apr 22 | 11:55 AM - 02:00 PM

Bill Belichick Press Conference

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BB: A quick recap on the Buffalo game. I don't think that I really have a much different feeling then I had after the game. We had some opportunities that fortunately we were able to take advantage of, a punt return, a pass interference call, a good run by Antowain [Smith] and even though we didn't gain a lot of yards offensively we were able to put 21 points on the board. On the other hand we stopped ourselves numerous times with turnovers, lack of production in the passing game and a couple of penalties. It was an inconsistent performance and defensively we gave up more yardage, but actually made more plays at the right time. We made a lot of plays on third down and played pretty well in the red area other than the last touchdown and two point play. In the end the yardage that Buffalo gained didn't translate into points and the yardage that we had did translate into points. The kicking game was basically pretty even other than the punt return. We were able to use that to set up a score at the beginning of the game. In the end it was capitalizing on some opportunities, a couple of key plays that fortunately for us went our way. Again I thought it was a real strong effort by Buffalo. They gave us quite a few problems, particularly defensively.

Injuries, there weren't really any significant injuries in the game. We had some bumps and bruises and a couple of guys went in and out of the game, but I think for the most part they are okay. We had several guys play at less than 100 percent and I don't think that there are any significant setbacks there so I think overall the health coming out of the game, from the game itself was okay. We did have a situation last night where Hakim Akbar got in an automobile accident. I think he has got a couple of fractured bones so I think it is unlikely that he would playing football anytime in the immediate future. I don't have a lot of details and I can't tell you the full extent of those.

I spoke with the doctors this morning and Drew [Bledsoe] is going to be given clearance to resume full practice and be cleared to play in games starting this week. So in light of the uniqueness of this situation Stacey [James] will setup something tomorrow with the medical people so they can answer your questions on the specifics of the medical situation with Drew. From a football standpoint the next step for him, he has taken several steps now in his rehabilitation and trying to resume back to normal activities, the next step will be for him to get more work with defensive scout team, get more practice snaps and begin to get some work with the offense and kind of rebuild the timing aspect there running our offense rather than just running scout team plays and we will start doing that on Wednesday and just evaluate him from there. I think the Drew has, any player, I mean Drew is the specific player in this case, but it is any player has several steps they have to take on the way back from a lengthy injury, this one has been seven weeks. He has taken some of those and there are still some more to take and we will evaluate the progress as we go along. That is the recap on Buffalo and that is the update. I gave the players…we are not having a meeting today. They are all in to workout. Some have been in, some are coming in, but they are in during the course of the day to workout. This is a situation where we play Buffalo again in the fairly near future and we will obviously be spending a lot of time on this game prior to the second Buffalo game in December. Rather then put a lot of time in that today I felt like our time would be better spent getting ready for St. Louis which I think we all know the caliber of football we are talking about here with the Rams and we can use all of the time we can get to work on them.

Q: What time did you hear about the Hakim Akbar accident?

BB: This morning.

Q: Do you know where it happened?

BB: No.

Q: Apparently he rolled his Escalade last night?

BB: Yeah I don't have a lot of details. If we get something later on in the day we will let it out, but I don't have much really. I don't want to shed any inaccurate information on this and so whatever we can get that is accurate we will pass along.

Q: What is the team's official feeling on the passing of Leon Gray?

BB: I just heard it here that is news to me. When did that happen today?

Q: It happened last night, he died from natural causes.

BB: I didn't know about it until you just brought it up here. Leon and John Hannah now that is about as good a left side as you can get. I will speak for the organization and say that our heart and our feelings go out to his immediate family and friends and certainly on behalf of the organization we all recognize what he did both as a player and as a member of the organization. I am sad to hear the passing of on of our compatriots.

Q: You mentioned the steps that Bledsoe is going to have to take, would you be shocked for him to be ready to play Sunday with the number of steps he has to take?

BB: I don't know. I can't answer any questions on a timeframe or what will or won't happen down the road a week from now, two weeks from now, four weeks from now, I just don't know. It is the next step we will evaluate it as it goes as we have been doing and just take it from there.

Q: So at this point Tom [Brady] is the starting quarterback for Sunday?

BB: Tom will get the majority of the reps with the offense as he has been doing. We expect Tom to start this Sunday against St. Louis, right.

Q: Is Ty [Law] playing a lot better this year and if so why?

BB: I think Ty is having a better year this year than last year. I think the main thing that Ty is doing better this year is that he is playing the defense and understands the concept a little bit more in the defense of what we are looking for and trying to play it that way. Ty still does some things the way that he would prefer to do them and that he has confidence in doing them that way and they are successful. So I am not saying that he is outside the lines of the defense, but at times it is not a perfect fit. At times it doesn't matter, at other times it is not really a perfect fit, but this year he has been more disciplined and playing within the framework of the defense and I think that he has had an opportunity to make more plays and some plays have come to him a little bit too. I think the interception that he had yesterday was a perfect example of how by playing the defense correctly and being in the right spot, he put himself in position that when he made a good break on the ball and a good play in catching the ball that he converted that opportunity into an interception.

Q: Roughly what percentage of the time is he in zone compared to man-to-man?

BB: We played about half zone, half man. I couldn't give an exact percentage, but I would say that it was about half and half. On those running plays it doesn't make any difference. I mean you could be in zone 80 percent of the time and if all of those are runs, who cares.

Q: Can you give an example when a player like Ty is not playing defense exactly as you want, but his talent is compensating for that?

BB: Say for example that a corner is covering a receiver and he has help coming from underneath, well if he goes up and presses the receiver on the line of scrimmage then the help that is coming from underneath comes right into the same position that he has already taken away so he is really not in a position to take advantage of that help because by pressing the guy on the line of scrimmage, we are having two guys that are taking the exact same leverage away from the receiver.

Q: So he's more likely to give up the deep ball?

BB: The guy that is dropping to help him is taking away the same thing that he is taking away so…

Q: It is redundant?

BB: Right. It is pointless so if that is the way it is going to be then we would be better off taking that guy, instead of helping the corner who is pressed, we would be better off putting him on somebody else because he can't do anything in that situation. So in order to take advantage of where your help is coming from you want to compensate by playing in a way that you can use your help. So that would be an example of a player, even though he has got a guy man-to-man, by not playing the right technique would make another player who is trying to help him ineffective.

Q: What is it about Otis Smith that makes him so effective at his age?

BB: Well I think the number one thing is his work ethic and I am not talking just physical, mentally as well. Otis is in pretty good shape year round. He never really gets too far from I would say a good performance level. Mentally he works probably as hard as any player we have in terms of both himself, studying his own technique and his own fundamentals, but also what the opponent is doing, when they do it and how to key on it. I think also Otis understands what his strengths are and what his weaknesses are and how to try to use his strengths versus the opponents weakness or minimize his weakness versus the opponents strength as it varies from player to player and game to game. By putting all of those things, by getting all of those stars from alignment really there is a low percentage of times when he is at a real disadvantaged position and he minimizes that. Otis has very good hands, he has real good ball skills so if the quarterback backs a mistakes then he usually makes them pay for it. I think that is one thing that quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, you are always a little leery of because when you throw the ball around a guy that is going to pick it off there is a lot less margin for error. Some guys they might make a play, but it is not going to be an interception because 90 percent of the time the guy will drop it, but in Otis' case, Otis is a savvy ball hawk and if the ball is thrown inaccurately around him most of the time he is going to come up with it. I think those are his strengths and I think Otis is also a physical player. He is a good run force player. He does a good job in the running game which a lot of time goes unnoticed by defensive backs, but I think that is one of his strengths.

Q: Back to the quarterback is now like any other position in that the best player plays, on Friday if you see that Drew is by far the best quarterback out there he is the guy, is it like that every week and philosophically is the quarterback position different where you may not want to be doing that every week?

BB: I don't think you are looking for that in any spot. I don't think you are looking to change guys every day or play. Sometimes you may change it situationally, that is usually not the case at quarterback although you see guys coming in and running plays on the goal line and short yardage and that type of thing, but no I don't see it as being the quarterbacks position where you want to be running guys in and out every time and that type of thing. But as far as bringing a player back from a significant period where he has been out of action, the only thing I can evaluate it what we see on the field. We can sit around and talk about it all day, but what it comes down to is performance on the field and that is what he will be evaluated on. So I don't have a timeframe. It is not this Friday, it is not next Friday, it is not four Friday's from now, we will just see how it goes.

Q: When you say on the field you mean in practice?

BB: That is all we have between now and Sunday.

Q: How does he look so far?

BB: I don't think it is fair to evaluate him on what he has done so far because he hasn't been fully cleared and fully ready to go and I don't think it is right to evaluate a player when he is, let's call it rehabbing or whatever you want to call it, coming back from an injury because then you get a perception of where he is at and that is not really where he is at because he is still just working his way back. He hasn't been cleared to go yet so I don't want to prejudge a situation where a guy is not fully able to compete.

Q: This is something that will probably cause a lot of speculation around here the next couple of weeks…

BB: You think so?

Q: Yeah I think it might be, are you concerned at all that this might become a distraction for the coaching staff and the players and what did you learn from the time you were in Cleveland with the quarterback situation you had there?

BB: The situation in Cleveland I don't think you can possibly make a comparison on this. The only comparison I can make to the situation in Cleveland would be on '92 when [Bernie] Kosar broke his ankle and then came back and played at the end of the '92 season, but that was quite a bit different from this too. People will talk about whatever they want to talk about. I am not going to try to tell people not to talk about it or too talk about it or whatever that is not really what it is about for me, it is about trying to win a game and trying to put the players out there on a weekly basis that we feel like we can do it with.

Q: The steps that Drew need to take, can you tell us what those are, does he just need to shake the rust off or does he need to get back in condition?

BB: Well he hasn't played in seven weeks so he hasn't had any snaps with the offense really in seven weeks. He has thrown some scout team plays, some plays off cards and that kind of thing, but he hasn't run any plays offensively with the guys that a quarterback would be working with in a game situation, not a scout team situation so…

Q: Are you talking about learning the offense again?

BB: No I didn't say learning it, but getting his timing back and executing it. Look I know the offense I can go out there, I know what to do on the offense, I can't play quarterback. It is not about knowing the offense it is about being able to execute and perform it. That is what it is about for everybody. I know what the tackle does too, I can't play tackle.

Q: But you are not worried about his physical condition in terms of aerobically or being out on the field the whole game?

BB: I think that, no, I think that is part of it. It is one thing to go out there and throw a few passes and rotate in with other guys, it is another thing to go out there and have to throw all of them in the whole game. It is like anything else too, when you play, there is basically only one quarterback that can play so until you get in the game it is not the same as being in the game. There's no other way around that, but we are in a situation now where every game is a big game. We have got to win every week. It isn't preseason where you can play this guy, play that guy, play the guys that we think give us the best chance to win.

Q: When Drew gets back to being the Drew Bledsoe that you know and we know, a healthy Drew Bledsoe, does he start that next Sunday?

BB: I have just got to go by what I see. I can't tell you what I am going to see. I can't tell you how fast it is going to go or how slow it is going to go…

Q: No, but when he is?

BB: Well I don't know. I mean until I see it I just don't know.

Q: But when you see it does he start the next game?

BB: I am going to play the guy that I think gives us the best chance to win every week, that is who it is going to be. So whoever that is, that's who it is going to be.

Q: How do you know that he is ready to take a hit, can he get clearance from the medical staff to say he is ready to take a hit from a 250 pound full speed lineman?

BB: Absolutely, absolutely until I get that clearance he will not go in the game, absolutely. I am not putting him in the game until medically he is cleared to be able to take whatever contact he can take.

Q: Even if he is cleared he hasn't taken that kind of hit since his injury?

BB: But that is not my decision, that is not my call. I can't say medically whether he will or won't, but when medically he is cleared then we will go by what we see.

Q: So you didn't get clearance for him to get hit?

BB: He is going to receive medical clearance or maybe he is in the process of receiving it and you will be able to interrogate the medical people tomorrow with whatever those questions are you want to ask them about, about getting hit by 200 pound guys and 300 pound guys or…

Q: But you said you talked to the doctors, what did they tell you that he could do?

BB: That he will be cleared to play this week.

Q: And take those hits?

BB: Play, play. Look either I guy is cleared to play or he is not cleared to play at all. You can't put a guy in there and say, 'Well he is going to play and not get hit.' I mean I don't care if it is a punter, a quarterback. I mean it is black and it is white, there is no gray on this, it is black or it white. Either they can play or they can't play. I have been in this business a long time it is not well he can play receiver, but he can't return punts or he can do this, but he can't cover kickoffs, either they can play or they can't play.

Q: That clearance is coming this week?

BB: Right.

Q: Did you talk to the Tom and Drew?

BB: Yeah.

Q: And said this is the way I am going to handle it?

BB: Sure, sure.

Q: Basically told them what you just said, 'I am going to play the best guy that gives us a chance to win on Sunday?'

BB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean Tom knows what his situation is. Drew is in a process of where he is coming back from a serious injury and we've laid out the steps that we will have to take in that return.

Q: In terms of the rest of the offense the running backs the last two weeks have had a much bigger role in the passing game especially Kevin Faulk yesterday, is that by design or are teams doing something different to try to take away your receivers?

BB: No I think the last two weeks both Atlanta and Buffalo have done a good job of their coverages of trying to take away the two guys that have had the most production for us [David] Patten and [Troy] Brown and that the ball has gone to other people in the last two weeks. I think from the standpoint of the passing game if that is what they do, then that is what you are going to have to do, you are going to have throw to somebody else. Every once in awhile you may be able to come up with something that springs a guy free, but if you spend all of your time doing that you are going to be throwing into a lot of heavy coverage. We had a couple of those situations yesterday where the options were more the receivers and they were taken away and by the time we came back to the backs or the tight end, either the pressure got to us or something broke down and we ended up with a negative play. So offensively we are going to have to do a better job from a coaching standpoint of creating more options. We are going to have to do a better job from a player standpoint of executing those options and we are going to need to be more productive than we were on offense yesterday, there is no question about that.

Q: Given that, do you need a third wide receiver to start emerging? It seemed that when you had three in there against San Diego Tom was able to pick apart the defense?

BB: We had good production in Indianapolis, but the bottom line is that we need production on offense. We need players that can make plays for us on offense and we haven't had a lot of production from the receivers other than Troy and David. There has been some, but it hasn't been a great deal. We have had good production the last two weeks from our running back. Whether the running back offsets the passing production or the passing offsets the running production or whatever it is, but the bottom line is that we are going to need more than one and more than two players to be productive or any defense will close them down.

Q: You had an empty roster spot this game and now it appears that you might have two, do you have any priority positions that need to be filled I am thinking in terms of the bangs and bruises that you have on the offensive line?

BB: We will probably take a look at some people in the next day or two or during the week. We have to inactivate eight people, seven and a third quarterback every week anyway so to bring somebody in to make them inactive, if they don't really fit into the long-term plan sometimes it doesn't really make a lot of sense. For example last week with the offensive line we thought about signing another lineman, but we felt like the injuries that were ongoing with Greg [Robinson-Randall] and Matt [Light] were not that long-term. That we would just be bringing them in for a week or two and then hopefully we would get those guys back and then we would just be shuffling them again, so rather than make that kind of move we may not make any move at all. To answer your question would we consider it, yes. I think the things that we need to consider right now are special teams and then if we could find somebody that we felt could really make a contribution to the team then that would be a no-brainer. For example with Ben Kelley when we claimed him from Miami I think that there is a possibility that he can contribute to the team as a returner. I am not saying that is going to happen, it is not like we are unhappy with Troy Brown, but we are asking troy to do a lot. That is something that he may be able to contribute so that's one reason why we got him. If we find another player who can come in and contribute something, that might be an option.

Q: The situation with Kenyatta Jones yesterday did you feel at any point that it was risky to make him inactive because of the potential of injury?

BB: Sure, absolutely, absolutely. We were keeping our fingers crossed yesterday at the tackle position. Our fourth tackle would have been [Mike] Compton. We were going in with Greg who basically didn't practice last week, with Light he hasn't hit anybody in two weeks and the healthiest guy we had was Grant [Williams] and he got banged up during the game. So when that happened we knew that we were walking the tight rope with having to go to another tackle and that would have had to be Compton in an emergency and [Grey] Ruegamer would have had to go inside. So no question that's, but you know you go through that every week. I think when you take a look at, you can take a look at the 45 man roster whether it is ours, Buffalo's, Atlanta's or anybody else's and one injury you can see who the next person is going to be. Once you get to that second injury then it is going to be a little bit of a scramble no matter what position it is at whether it is quarterback, wide receiver. You go into the game with four receivers, lose two where is your third wide receiver. You go into the game with seven linemen you lose two tackles or two centers or two anything you have got problems. So I don't think it really matters what position it is at. When you do the math there is not enough depth on the 45 to get everything covered the way that you would like to get it covered. So somebody is going to have to double up and that is where flexibility on your roster is an important thing. Where you can have a guy go in and fill in at another position, multiple positions, play both tackles, play center and guard, play defensive tackle and end, play inside and outside linebacker things like that. Some of those guys, they don't get a lot of recognition for it. They are a little bit unnoticed, guys like Antwan Harris who can play safety or corner for you in a pinch have value in the game, both on special teams and what the bring defensively.

Q: Has Brady's success made decision to go back to Bledsoe more difficult than you anticipated?

BB: I don't think right now it is about going back and forth, it is about evaluating the situation at hand and right now what we have is a guy that has been playing for seven games and has done some good things, has had a few problems and that is really where we are at. The other player's haven't played as much and they are coming back, but we just have to see whether, at what point they will be ready. I think there is a little bit, I would say this to answer your question directly, I think there is a little bit of a sense whether it be a quarterback or in other sports as well of staying with something that is successful and staying with a hot hand. I think if we had lost the last seven games that that would probably look a little differently then winning five of the last seven, I wouldn't disagree with that, but my decision is based on really where we are today and what I think is best for St. Louis. Nobody cares about what happened last week or two weeks ago the only thing anybody cares about is what is going to happen against St. Louis, that is all I care about. What's in the books is in the books and we will put together the best plan we can and the best team we can to try to beat the Rams and that will be a formidable task.

Q: Your defense has peaked in the last couple of weeks is this a good time to be facing the Rams or is there such a thing?

BB: Yeah I don't know if there is a real good time to be facing the Rams. I will say this, as long as I have been in the National Football League this is the most explosive offense I have ever seen. It is just like you said every play is a potential touchdown from any point on the field. I have seen a lot of good offenses and a lot of teams have some degree of grinding it out or controlling the ball, St. Louis, I mean they can do that if they want to, but you can't count on them doing it. I mean they can come in and we have seen them they 19 of their first 20 plays could be passes and 18 of those 19 could be deep passes. Throwing to Marshall Faulk could be just as dangerous or more so than throwing the ball to [Trung] Candidate or whoever is in there. They just keep them coming. The skill players are tremendous, the quarterback is tremendous. They can score from any point on the field. The only way to stop the passing game would be to let the air out of the ball, but that doesn't help either because they will run for 300 yards. It is a pretty tough situation to defend. The scheme is aggressive and it looks like whatever you give them they'll take and they will take a lot of it. I just haven't seen any offense as consistently and philosophically as explosive as this one. The closest I could come I would say would be the '80 Chargers where it was Wes Chandler, [Chuck] Muncie, Kellen Winslow, John Jefferson, who else did they have, [Dan] Fouts, they had a great offensive line, they had another receiver too, Charlie Joiner. They played that San Diego Super Chargers, that song about four times every quarter. I can still hear it ringing in my head. Every time they touched the ball it didn't matter who they gave it to you could see the guy going 50 yards and that is a little bit like what St. Louis looks like.

Q: They have a lot of guys that can do that, how can you stop them all?

BB: It is going to be challenging. We haven't played them, we haven't played them like this so we are going to spend a couple of days here trying to see what the best way to do it is, but obviously they present a lot of problems.

Q: Given how successful they are in a dome how much of an advantage is it for you that this game will be played here on a cold November night on grass?

BB: It won't be any colder for them than it is for us. Whatever it is both teams will have to play in the same conditions. I really don't know what the advantage is. I think there is always a little bit of an advantage to playing at home, but some of the games that I have watched they have hung up a lot of points and a lot of yards on a lot of people home and away. They are pretty formidable. I will just say this too, defensively they look pretty good, they really do, they look pretty good. They have a good scheme. Their players are active. They certainly improved the talent on the defense. They have gotten some veteran players in there as well. I know they have some young guys, but they got some veteran players, guys like Aeneas Williams and they have added people to their defensive scheme and they are playing from ahead a lot and they look pretty good.

Q: The seven sacks from yesterday, after looking them over, were they due to protection problems?

BB: It was a combination of things. We had some protection problems. We had some plays that weren't the greatest plays. There were some plays that I thought we should have had a chance on that in all honesty Buffalo did well, plays that we thought should have been good that they were all over. Execution wasn't great at quarterback and receiver positions at times. So I think from the coaches, to the offensive line, to the receivers, to the quarterback that there were a couple of problems all the way through. I am not saying on every play, but again there was a couple here a couple there, it was just overall lack of efficiency and consistency in the passing game. I wouldn't say by any means that it was all on the offensive line. There were plenty of times were we had plenty of time to throw, but there were other issues on the play that led to it not being successful.

Q: The Rams are going to put pressure on your defense, but they are also going to put pressure on your offense, can you briefly talk about that?

BB: Yeah they put pressure on you on everything whether it is onside kicks, returns. Defensively they blitz quite a bit and again if they get the lead, which in most of the games I have watched they have had it even the New Orleans game they had, people are trying to throw, they are running a bunch of different blitzes at them that are hard to pick up. They know you h

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